Pakistan vs New Zealand – 1st Test – Day 2
Pakistan 1st Innings 438 all out in 130.5 overs (Babar 161, Salman 103, Sarfaraz 86, Southee 3/69, Bracewell 2/72) vs New Zealand 165 for no loss in 47 overs (Latham 78*, Conway 82*)
Darryl Mitchell would have been the happiest blackcap when Babar Azam was dismissed in the first over of the day without adding a single run to his overnight score of 161. The bleeding from his dropped catch had finally stopped.
With the score on 318 for 6 and only the Pakistan lower order to follow New Zealand must have harbored thoughts of restricting them to about 350-375. But the benign nature of the pitch meant that it was always going to be hard work getting the remaining wickets. Nauman Ali hung around for 75 balls to score 7. The importance of his innings was that all-rounder Salman Agha at the other end added 47 in his company.
Once Nauman was dismissed Salman stepped on the accelerator and in the process brought up his maiden international hundred. Pakistan finished their innings on 438. The last 4 wickets added extremely useful 120 runs. Once you get 400+ in your first innings it acts as a safety net unless something goes horribly wrong in the second.
Test cricket in the subcontinent is about big first innings runs. As the pitch deteriorates batting gets tougher and tougher. The blackcaps know this well and would ideally want to bat only once in this test match. They made a great start to this plan by being 165 for no loss at the end of day two. M/s Latham & Conway looked in no trouble at all against any of the Pakistan bowlers. ESPN Cricinfo had their respective control percentages at 96 and 94 which is amazing considering the fact that the odd ball was keeping really low.
Conway became the fastest kiwi to reach a 1000 test runs. He currently averages over 50 which is rare territory for New Zealand batters. I know the sample size is small but the class is very evident.
Pakistan will be ruing the fact that they didn’t review the bat pad chance offered by Conway when he was on 57. Mastering the use of DRS is an essential skill in international cricket nowadays as it can often be the difference between winning and losing.
At the start of day 2 New Zealand wanted early wickets and Pakistan wanted to bat for as long as possible. At the start of day 3 New Zealand will want to bat all day and take a decent lead over Pakistan whereas Pakistan will be searching for early wickets. Day 3 normally gives us an indication of which way the game is going. Right now it feels like New Zealand hold all the aces.